leg-iron (leg_iron) wrote,
leg-iron
leg_iron

Breakfast with the Righteous: 2. University.


At University, I enrolled in a science degree and the lecturers on that course were pretty Righteous-free, as were most of the students. It was in the Student’s Union that I first discovered them.

 

I joined the Union for the cheap beer and concerts. I saw the Ramones there, which dates me somewhat, and spent a good deal of the first year in the cheap bars. The place was full of Righteous. They weren’t doing science courses. Most of them seemed not to be there for courses. They were more concerned with correcting our perceptions of the world.

 

These were the people who went on gay marches even though they weren’t gay, who supported ‘black power’ even though they were whiter than the Tiny Blur’s teeth, who railed and screamed and shook their fists at the world for no other reason, as far as I could see, than that it was there.

 

Teenagers rebel. Teenagers get the hump over inconsequential things, like being told to clean their room. Teenagers can fly into a rage if they see a sprout in their dinner. Most teenagers grow out of it. These Righteous were stuck in that teenage mindset, as far as I could see. They spent all their time looking for something to be offended at, some cause to support, and whether it affected them or not made no difference.

 

I won’t go on a gay march because I’m not gay. I’m sure whatever they’re marching about is very important to them but I’m afraid, whatever it is, it’s of no importance to me. I won’t go on an anti-gay march because I’m not anti-gay either. Likewise I won’t go on a black pride march, a ban the bomb march, a women’s time-of-the-month march, a badger-roasting march, or anything of the kind. Nor will I go on any anti-those-things marches. These are not issues that affect me so I am not going to shout about them. If they affect others, then it’s up to them to make their voices heard. I have no objection to any march or demonstration for any reason whatsoever, as long as it’s peaceful and there’s a coherent argument in there somewhere. But I’m not going to march. I’m not marching material anyway. Don’t have the legs for it.

 

The Righteous could not see this point of view. If I didn’t support whatever cause they had that week, then I must be against it. They could not grasp the ‘really, it’s none of my business’ approach. It’s everyone’s business, they insisted. These people are victims. They must be helped. We must help them. We must advance their cause.

 

What is the ‘cause’ associated with being gay, or being black? Surely the only thing anyone expects the rest of us to do about their sexuality or race is to leave it alone? To treat them as equals and ignore those irrelevant differences? Gay people can’t turn me gay, black people can’t make me black. I’m not interested in interfering in their lives either. There is no cause to advance here. That doesn’t stop the Righteous. They just make one up.

 

One of my best friends at university was Chinese. We drank considerable amounts of beer together, and argued with the Righteous together. The Chinese were (and still are) one of those groups the Righteous don’t like. They don’t make good pets. Most are too independent, too sensible, too self-reliant for the Righteous.

 

We laughed at them. We found them funny, calling each other ‘comrade’, having a new pointless cause every week, making up rules over the words they used and attempting to force those rules on the rest of us. They were socialists, naturally, insisting on stamping out ‘fascism’ by forcing everyone to conform to their draconian and ever-changing rules, and they never could – and still can’t – see the irony. They claimed to want to advance the cause of the working man, but any attempt the working man made to advance himself made him a Capitalist lackey. My Chinese friend studied accountancy, so he was a Capitalist lackey already, even on a student income.

 

We didn’t see it then. We didn’t spot the symptoms of the madness. I, particularly, did not understand why they showed particular interest in my physical status when none of my friends paid any attention. The Righteous had no power outside the Student’s Union and we escaped them by going to City Centre bars instead. Looking back, it was clear, but at that time they were a curiosity, a band of ragged, unwashed bearded idiots who we goaded for our amusement. We were never in their power, we never believed lunatics like these would get into a position where they had power over us.

 

That came later.

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